Saturday, September 09, 2006

Bolton: Round Two

John Bolton's re-nomination as Ambassador to the United Nations is temporarily being placed on hold by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which seems to mean that confirmation hearings won't be held until after the November elections. Bolton, the current UN Ambassador, got the position by recess appointment after the Republicans were unable to summon the votes necessary to block a threatened Democrat filibuster. Since then, Senator Voinovich (Republican) has changed his mind and has indicated he would vote for confirmation. With that switch, I would have thought the Republicans would have pushed the nomination to a vote quickly. I forgot that we are in the midst of the campaign season. From yesterday's NY Times:

The twisting route toward a formal confirmation vote on John R. Bolton as United Nations ambassador took another unexpected turn on Thursday when Senate committee action on the nomination was suddenly put off.

The delay appeared to represent the influence of international affairs on this year’s Congressional elections. Senate officials from both parties said the decision to scrub the vote in the Foreign Relations Committee at the last minute came at the request of Senator Lincoln Chafee, a Rhode Island Republican facing a primary election contest on Tuesday.

Mr. Chafee is considered a moderate and faces a conservative primary opponent who says the senator too often breaks with party ranks.

...Given the solid block of Democratic opposition to Mr. Bolton, the defection of even a single Republican would prevent the committee from sending the nomination to the Senate floor with the panel’s endorsement. The nomination could still be sent to the floor without a recommendation.

Apparently the committee chair wanted to spare Sen. Chafee the embarrassment of handing his right-wing opponent a campaign issue, especially since Sen. Chafee, while a moderate, still is a Republican and has voted with the party more often than not. Still, I'm wondering if there isn't more in play here than a simple bit of courtesy.

That in mind, I wandered over to TPM Cafe's Bolton Watch, which is an excellent source for all things Bolton. Scott T. Paul's "...Note to Senator Hagel" provides some additional information on the puzzle.

Earlier this week, Senator Hagel, you revealed that you had a "direct and honest conversation" with John Bolton. Today, Bolton traveled to your home state of Nebraska and gave an hour-long speech. In case you missed it, the boiled down version is: "go to hell."

I heard Bolton's remarks in Lincoln today. He didn't once discuss the importance of the United Nations or its key place in U.S. foreign policy. He didn't cite a single success story, despite S-G Annan's recent diplomatic trip, the cease-fire resolution in the Middle East, recent progress on Darfur, or any of its invaluable ongoing humanitarian, environment, democracy-promotion, or development work. It's not hard. Just today, the General Assembly adopted Annan's U.S.-backed counterterrorism strategy. That's important and timely, but apparently didn't warrant a one-sentence mention in Bolton's speech.

Instead, before moving on to hot-tempered rhetoric on Iran and North Korea, his remarks on the U.N. focused on sex, fraud, and corruption - nothing new, and nothing particularly useful for someone who's trying to work with other countries.

Senator Hagel, another moderate Republican who has parted company with his party far more noisily than Sen. Chafee ever has, just might still be on the fence. If so, and if he is aware of the speech Bolton gave in the good senator's own state, then it is possible that a Bolton confirmation from the Senate just isn't going to happen now or before the end of the year when Bolton must leave his job at the UN under the law.

The question remains: will the Emperor issue another recess appointment? Scott T. Paul has noted a couple of signals from the Administration that no such appointment will be made a second time. That information is contained in an earlier post on Bolton Watch. If that is the case, than Mr. Bolton will be out.

See what a well-unified Democratic bloc can do?

More like this, please.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bolton's moustache is Grimleylicious. :)

See, I visited! ;)


11:01 AM  

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